Elizabeth & Bilal: When Your 4am Chats Turn into a 20-Year Friendship
Bicoastal besties Elizabeth and Bilal have spent the better part of two decades sharing their most intimate sex stories and opinions, from ethical non-monogamy to the joys of three-ways. But have they ever considered having sex with each other?
“There were a couple moments in the past ten years where I was like, ‘Should we lean in? Should we not lean in?’” – Bilal
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Elizabeth & Bilal
Bilal is a late-night dude.
I remember we were in our 20s.
A mutual friend of ours had just an epically sized DVD collection back when that was a thing that was a real, real value. So much of college was like late night hangout sessions.
And I’m stopping by their room and you’re like, we just put in the rock, you should come watch with us.
We kind of just became fast friends
All the sudden, it’s five in the morning, and you just have the strangest and most interesting sort of late-night conversations.
Our conversations over the years, I’ve found them invaluable.
I think it was that everything is on the table, including sexuality. Everything’s new and you’re exploring who you are. And sex was sort of the same thing.
Elizabeth has just always been like, very open and very receptive to talking about sex in a way most, particularly like white women in my generation have not been. I remember very early on, we were just talking about the path of finding someone getting married, and settling down, just not the way to go, and that we were kindred spirits in that.
I remember being such good friends in the second half of college. And then, as sometimes happens immediately after college life just got really busy. And I remember coming back to our five-year college reunion, and running into Bilal, again, like seeing Bilal again, and there just being this moment where you’re like spine clicks into place a little better. And you can feel your shoulders go down, and you just like, Wait, this is a safe place. This is a joy place. I want to be here. And I remember having these conversations being like, dude, what happened? How did we not talk for four years? Like what? And I was just like, I am not letting go again.
Hi, I’m Bilal.
And I’m Elizabeth.
We’ve been friends for a very long time.
You are listening to GOOD SEX.
And this is good sex.
We are total nerds about sex together. But we are also total nerds about other things together. We’re huge graphic novel fans. We’re huge superhero movie fans. And like one of the big things that has been our annual pilgrimage for each other is San Diego Comic Con, there will always be three or four days where he stays with me in Los Angeles. And so we get a bunch of like, late night couch hangs and big, deep talks and perspectives on the world. Bilal and I somehow have made this friendship where we can just really openly talk about sexuality and talk about sexuality as people who like to have sex with each other’s gender. And yet it not be about us.
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s a combination of the fact that we like sex a lot. But we’re also very analytical, you know, left brain, right brain, whatever brain it is, people, whatever we’re doing, we spend a lot of time analyzing it and thinking about it, whatever we’re into whether it’s Marvel movies, NASA. When we discover things that we think the other person would be interested in, we share it with each other. We’re like this cool book came across my desk or read this article. I found this out. Okay, so question one. How are we similar sexually?
Oh, so many ways. Both you and I are able to be ethically non-monogamous. That’s a term that we only sort of had for it pretty recently, when we were younger. For me, it was just that I didn’t think sex and romance were exactly the same thing. And you were one of the few people that I thought could have romantic interest in someone and like loving interest in someone and could have sexual interest in someone. And those could coexist with the same someone or they could not. And I feel like you were one of the first people that said that out loud and said, Yeah, that’s cool. I agree with that. I had the exact same, Bilal, how are we similar sexually?
I think, you know, our just view on sex is similar in that we’re able to separate romantic attraction and relationship energy from sexual energy and just being sexually attracted to somebody. You know, while we’re Not walking the same path at the same time on the same mile markers. When I pass something, you’re like, oh, yeah, I did that about a year ago. And you know, like it was this experience for me. And then you’ll be like, you know, have you done this? I was like, oh, yeah, I did that about two years ago. And it was this kind of experience for me. And that way was actually similar. Because our process and our perspective on sex has evolved, not at the same time or speed, but together, and we kind of wound up in the same place.
I would also say, we’re just sexy people, not to be immodest. But I think that we’re just both similar, and that we’re people who really enjoy sexuality, and we really lean into it. And we really have high libido is and love sex. Yeah, it’s just a thing that we both want to talk about and think about and, you know, nerd out about a lot.
There’s very few things I think, for both of us, we’re like, we’re just purely in the joy, in the moment all the time. It’s just like, there’s always some kind of like, post breakdown of looking at it. And I think this bleeds over into how we view sex because we want understand, like, why do we like these things the way we like them. Okay, so I have the next question. And it’s a juicy one. In the past 10 years, have you been interested in me sexually?
Oh, I think I’ve contemplated the idea. There definitely been some time sitting on the couch over the last decade, oh, my gosh, talking about sex and talking about crazy adventures, and I thought, you know, all we have to do is like, cross those couple of inches and like lean in and, you know, is now the time or should now be the time or is this right? And then you know, you’re asking yourself, what will this change? What will this do? Does this make it stronger? Does this break the relationship? You know, what happens tomorrow, and not only tomorrow, but like, you’re in my life forever. So what happens in five years, what happens in 10 years, I know that in all of those circumstances, it’s always been for me, that there are plenty of people in the world that I have sex with, you are singular, in being the friend that I talk about sex with, the world wants you to separate those out, if it’s sex, it should be casual, like sexy conversation should feel casual. They shouldn’t feel that they also have emotional intimacy and real like vulnerability, and but that’s what good sex is. It’s all about vulnerability, and, and you’re the only person that I really have those conversations with. And so I think, I sort of believe that we can control what we want to what we don’t. I mean, yes, inhibitions can get lowered. But like, I know what I value. And I think that the attractions there, but I don’t think it’s ever come to a place where I really want to act on it. Because way before that is this moment where I’m just like, no, this is a truly singular thing that I have with this friend. And I don’t want that to get shifted. I don’t want that to get moved. I adore our ability to have these conversations. And that’s really singular.
Right. No, I appreciate that. Yeah. I mean, I thought about that question. Because I was like, there was a couple moments where I was like, should we lean in should we not lean in and like last, you know, 10 years, because one of the things I’m interested in, like sort of exploring, and I’ve started to do it with another friend is to have my girlfriend, my life partner, who I adore, and I want to build with. And then I also have singular sexual experiences, you know, in the like, last one to two to three years. But I’ve been reading about what it can be like to have a lifelong kind of friend with benefits. And I’ve been kind of exploring that idea with some different friends and talking about that we’re trying to avoid the messiness, but not lose what you have just been thinking about that.
So how is our intimacy different from the one that you share with your partner, or with another partner?
Oh, I would say our intimacy, it has more of a historical bent to it, because I’ve been friends with you longer than any one partner I’ve ever been with and ever going to be with. And so I think a lot of what I appreciate is you’ve known me a long time, and you’ve seen me grow and change and stumble and evolve, and de-evolve. And so I appreciate your sort of long take on my sex life in my growth as a person. It’s very rare that I can find another female that I can be this open and dishonest with and not a completely neutral third party like to say we’re both on each other’s side and we’re both each other’s cheerleader, and we both want each other to have joy. But you know, there’s not a ton of skin in the game because when it’s your primary partner, you’re going to have deep emotional bonds and you know, words have to be measured because words really hurt. With you, there’s a judgment free and it just like that this is what it is kind of thing. What do you think my favorite sex act is?
Oh, so like the top of mind is like anything on a beach because I just remember all of your like crazy YOLO, You Only Live Once vacations? I don’t know, I don’t know if that’s your favorite. Now, I’m feeling like this whole interview is a lie. Because I don’t know what your favorite sex act is. And how have we been sexy friends who talk about sex for 25 years? And I don’t know.
Were total frauds. You’ve exposed us.
exactly. None of its true. None of its real. We’re not really deep, intimate friends. Actually, if I were gonna pick one, I would actually say giving oral is one of your favorites
That’s not my favorite, but that’s very high up there. That’s my favorite thing to do to a woman for sure is to go down on her. I love making girl calm. I really enjoy that. But I would say for a solid while now my favorite sex act it goes along with what you’re talking about in terms of my adventures on beaches and stuff is a three way. Once I had that experience, it was like there’s no going back. You change. Again, I can have that kind of conversation with you. Whereas when I have that with my partner, there’s Oh, like, is it not enough? And all that kind of stuff.
And then with me I’m like, no, absolutely. Three ways are amazing.
So much fun. Okay, so what have you learned from our conversations that you have taken into the bedroom?
Oh, that is really, really good. Sometimes earlier in life, I was always unsure of what women wanted. And whether what I was doing was making them happy. And kind of waiting for them to do things and respond to things and be into things. And our conversations have definitely cemented in my head that if a woman likes you and she’s into you, she will do things, she will act on things felt like I was overcompensating in my 20s and things like that to be like, oh, like, I need to make sure I give her a ton of space and make sure she feel super comfortable and make sure I do all these things. And our conversations is like, you know, there are women out there who will be into you, who will just lean into it hard dude, and just be and just go from jump and stuff like that. And so like, don’t be afraid to let a woman express that and take the lead and be strong and powerful in her sexuality and stuff like that. That’s been really, really nice part of our conversations. Have you ever judged me because of my sexual expression?
I mean, I’ve judged you worthy.
Nice, nice. That’s nice. I was like, oh, here comes, here Comes the Boom.
You know, I think there are plenty of times when you’ve said stuff that may be activated judgment in me that I had to then be like, oh, whoa, I think the first time you ever told me about one of your crazy sex vacations for like a decade ago or you like went to Costa Rica, and you had all of these orgies or something. I mean, in my head. That’s what you were telling me. I was just like, whoa, wait, you can do that? That seems outrageous. And then I had this moment where I was like, wait, that seems amazingly fun. What is this thing in my brain that went that’s not allowed? Why am I saying that that’s not allowed? Do I think that way? Or is that just the kind of things that society tells me I should feel about this? Or is this a thing that I do actually feel? And this is the beauty of like what our conversations are, there’s a whole world of judgment that I think lives in every single one of us. That’s just, I don’t know, the accretions of what the world says, right? The world says that sleeping with four people at once is a terrible idea. You’re not allowed to sleep with five people in five days, or you’re not allowed to find a stranger and enjoy them and be naked with them inside of two hours. The world says that indulging in sexuality and having those be very time limited experiences like having that be short term. The world just generally thinks that’s not cool. And I don’t, I don’t think that’s fair. The world says all these things and you like build it up in your brain. And a lot of times you don’t even know it’s in there until you activate it. And then you’re like, oh, no, you’re a terrible traveler. You’re not allowed to be in my brain. I’m getting rid of you now. I don’t actually agree with that thing that the world keeps teaching me. Last wrapping up question, how does it feel now? What does this conversation feel like? And what does it feel like having had this conversation together?
To me this feels like how we talk when I’m sitting on your couch late at night in LA visiting and like on my way down to San Diego. It doesn’t feel any different, other than the fact that we’re not in our pajamas and thanks to technology, we can do it, you know, on different sides of the country now. It’s one of those things that our friendship doesn’t always feel transformative in the moment is when you reflect back on it a week later, or a month later, a year later, you’re like, wow, that was a moment and like things have changed. You know, I may have that reflection on our friendship. And I view our friendship as a series of evolutions and D evolutions and changes. And this conversation to me doesn’t make it feel super-duper different, other than all the other conversations we’ve had over the years. And so this is October 2021 Chapter.
Absolutely. It feels like you could be in my ears just on a late-night three-hour call talking about the world.
Like you said, it’s singular. You can walk a whole lifetime without someone like this.
Ah, no, a little bit crying.
Thank you for listening to GOOD SEX.
Claire Jones 16:14
GOOD SEX is a Lemonada Media original. This show is produced by Claire Jones and Matthew Simonsson. Our supervising producer is Xorje Olivares, with Jackie Danziger as our story editor. Executive producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs and Jessica Cordova Kramer. Music is by Dan Molad with additional music from APM music. Sound design is by Matthew Simonsson and Elle Rinaldi. If you like GOOD SEX, the show not, you know? Why don’t you rate and review us listen and follow for new episodes each week, wherever you’re listening right now. And if you want more GOOD SEX, subscribe to Lemonada Premium only on Apple podcasts.